Five arrested for stealing metal from employer

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Five current and former employees of a Salt Lake recycling company have been arrested.

Guadalupe Espinoza Lopez, Richard Montano, Jose Dejesus Ponce, Jose Antonio Arteaga and Guillermo Lopez are now facing theft and money laundering charges.

Investigators with the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office say the five men were stealing scrap metal from Western Metals Recycling, the company they were working for, and then sold that metal to another recycler.

"These guys were skimming off some of the more valuable alloys of industrial metals," says Fred Burmerster, deputy district attorney for Salt Lake County.

Burmester says the thefts have been going on for about five years. Early estimates are that the five men got away with more than $700,000 worth of metal.

Burmester says his office didn't get involved until they got a phone call from the owner of Western Metals Recycling this past spring.

"He wanted some help. He wanted to know what he should do because he suspected some employees were involved in a scheme where they were taking metal from the shop. Some of them were employees; some were former employees," Burmester says.

Investigators say the five men were in charge of picking up scrap metal from Kennecott Utah Copper. That scrap metal was supposed to be recycled at Western Metal. Instead, investigators say the five men took some of the metal to sell it to other recyclers.

The five were arrested early Thursday morning.



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